Report on Copahue (Chile-Argentina) — 19 December-25 December 2012
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 19 December-25 December 2012
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2012. Report on Copahue (Chile-Argentina). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 19 December-25 December 2012. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
37.856°S, 71.183°W; summit elev. 2953 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN reported increased seismicity at Copahue on 22 December. Seismicity fluctuated but was high and indicated that emissions from what was thought to be a phreatic eruption varied between white gas and dark ash plumes. The plumes rose 1-1.5 km above the crater and were observed in satellite imagery drifting 400 km SE. The Alert Level was raised to Orange.
Scientists aboard an overflight observed a low plume rising 1.5 km above a vent in Del Agrio Crater, in the same area as the previous eruption in 2000, and drifting SE. The scientists noted that at 1600 the emissions changed from ash to gas. Later that day web cameras showed incandescence from the crater reflecting in the clouds. The Alert Level was raised to Red, and people within a 15-km-radius and along drainages were warned about potential increases in activity or lahars.
On 23 December incandescence from the crater increased with explosions, as high as 450 m. Strombolian activity ejected incandescent blocks, and mostly white plumes turned dark during explosions. The plumes rose 1 km and drifted SE. On 24 December seismicity decreased. The camera recorded crater incandescence which increased to heights of 200 m with explosions. Incandescent blocks were again ejected with Strombolian explosions. Plumes rose 300 m and drifted SE; they were mostly white, but turned dark with ash during explosions. The Alert Level was lowered to Orange. On 25 December seismicity decreased to low values and tremor was not detected. Cloud cover obscured web camera views. Diffuse plumes visible in satellite images drifted 70 km SE.
Geologic Background. Volcán Copahue is an elongated composite cone constructed along the Chile-Argentina border within the 6.5 x 8.5 km wide Trapa-Trapa caldera that formed between 0.6 and 0.4 million years ago near the NW margin of the 20 x 15 km Pliocene Caviahue (Del Agrio) caldera. The eastern summit crater, part of a 2-km-long, ENE-WSW line of nine craters, contains a briny, acidic 300-m-wide crater lake (also referred to as El Agrio or Del Agrio) and displays intense fumarolic activity. Acidic hot springs occur below the eastern outlet of the crater lake, contributing to the acidity of the Río Agrio, and another geothermal zone is located within Caviahue caldera about 7 km NE of the summit. Infrequent mild-to-moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded at Copahue since the 18th century. Twentieth-century eruptions from the crater lake have ejected pyroclastic rocks and chilled liquid sulfur fragments.